Dr. Stephen Phinney | Nov. 24, 2020
We live in a culture of mini-gods.
Growing up in a deceived home, deception was not only the “norm,” but it was a way of life. My counselor once said to me, You are so keen on Truth because you grew up in a home without it. Well said.
I think this mode of reaction is common to most. However, I learned later in my Christian walk that the “most” drop into the irony of sustaining the deception that most were/are familiar with. My research reveals that few embed themselves in the Truth IF their childhood norm was deception. This might be why our world is so deceived.
In Genesis, we discover this principle:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Gen 3:1-7 NASB)
Satan's root deception was to get Eve to “be like God” – therefore, she would begin playing-god. He presented the Truth in such a twisted way that she would evaluate things from an external perspective (the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes). It is in this deceptive worldview that got Satan in trouble while he was still in Heaven. Misery truly loves company.
Satan has one thing going for him each time he sets a temptation before us to be happy, unhappiness ensues. Thinking that God would not want His children to be unhappy or uncomfortable – all of mankind falls into the common deceptions of Satan, i.e., divorce, remarriage, change of friendships, or simply setting up relational boundaries. Even though most know, until recently, God had already spoken to their doctrinal errors. Today, most self-proclaimed Christians disregard God’s doctrines and choose a way that makes them happiest or comfortable. Whenever we start changing the doctrines of God that He has already called absolutes, we run into the face of the greatest deception of humanity – that of playing-god. Without question, this results in the “believer” forming their individualized style of “Christian.” This depraved lifestyle matches their morbid beliefs – beliefs that deceive the believer into thinking that we have the privilege of making our own choices instead of releasing Christ within us to make a choice.
God was quite serious when He said, “for if you eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, you shall die.” Here is the reality of the two trees. Eve was already in the image of God, but Satan wanted her to be in the graven image of himself. His deception was simple. If he emphasized what God said, she would be apt to cave in, with a reverse twist, a classic reverse psychology case. Eve’s identity was already perfect – being formed in the image (identity) of God, the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. The Tree of Knowledge was the graven symbol of the image (identity) of Satan. The Tree of Life was the eternal symbol of God's image (identity) of the Trinity. What we have before us is the first identity war of the human soul.
Since the Tree of Knowledge is based on satanic human logic and wisdom, we are faced with self-logic vs. wisdom, that comes down from above into the indwelt human soul (mind, will & emotions). James spoke to this demise.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:13-17)
The cleaver twist that our enemy uses is through what we people-helpers call transference. Satan understands that humans will not come to him directly. To convert followers to his deception & graven imagery (identity), he had to be clever. Since this is true, he conducts an act of transference, projecting his motives & objectives to the human soul - in the form of human logic. Therefore, human logic is at the core of the objective of the Tree of Knowledge.
Once the human is entangled in human logic, the enemy knows it will form (automatically) the self-life. When the individual is consumed by the earthly, natural & demonic elements of the self-life, his objective in having humans playing-god (idolatry) is complete. The results being, the human begins the downward spiral of self-deception, thinking not only being a god of their own lives but believing they are truly significant outside of the indwelling Life of Christ.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)
Each of our decisions that promote self-life produces daily dying. When humans attempt to determine what is good or evil with their human minds, Satan is there waiting to give us the fruit of living-death of such a decision, which always puts God on the outside of the equation. Believe it or not, even hearing the Truth and following what you know is right is playing-god unless it is Christ in the believer responding to the Father through the born-again. Millions of “emergent believers” follow the rules and principles of Christ, but their outward obedience still sends them to Hell. Any action that is not the actions of Christ in the born-again is PLAYING-GOD.
How many times have you been in a discussion where you wanted someone to live by the standards of God? They disagree with you, and you begin forcing God’s opinion onto them. Yes, as you would guess, this is playing-god. If you are doing this, you are buying into the deception that the Tree of Knowledge has saving Grace. Attempting to prove that God’s Truth is what enforces His Holy actions is depraved thinking at its best. The reality is unless Christ in the believer is fulfilling the laws and guidelines of the Holy, it is pure self-life Christianity. Only the Spirit can bring conviction upon another. We plant the seeds of Truth, another provides water, but the Spirit is the tutor that leads the person to Truth, the personhood of Jesus. A method of Grace in action.
When we attempt to steal the role of the Spirit, we assert ourselves as God, which usually ends in an argument or debate. Christian debates are the absolute worst form of playing-god known to the Church and its society. Christendom is filled with so-called “Christians” pressing the Truths of God to people who have no way of determining such truths as Truth. Most true well-seasoned indwelt Christians know this; if the Spirit does not bring understanding to those each is reaching out to – they won’t “get it.” Furthermore, authentic believers tend to know; at that point, each is debating spiritual forces (Eph. 6:12). One of the more depraved forms of evangelism is self-proclaimed “Christians” using earthly (knowledge), natural (common-sense), and demonic (satanic influence) wisdom to debate the ideologies of God. The results of this kind of evangelism assist in the accomplishments of the objective of Satan.
Self-proclaimed Christians who debate spiritual forces are at the root of all church-splits and factions of denominations. Honestly, mostly out of ignorance, they are acting like fools. If indwelt Christians could see the spirit world and see who they were debating, arguing their point, or belaboring their interpretations of Truth, we wouldn’t have a divided church. Anyone who debates “powers of darkness” (demons) are either fools or minimally acting as one. Since the Church is filled with “little gods” warring with fellow body members and deciding what is right for the Church, it promotes self-righteousness without consulting the inner Life of Christ. Ultimately, this depraved approach to the Church advances Satan’s primary goal of separating humans from Jesus – indwelt or not.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The Word tells us that “we shall know them by their love,” and to be honest with you, most of the Church is known for their hate and divisive tactics! We have become a better example of the Tree of Knowledge and propagate “know-how” versus the believer's Life of Christ. We have people running from the Church faster than into it – if you haven’t noticed? It is a sad state when authentic Christians, or external Christ-followers, trust unbelievers quicker than their fellow Body members in Christ.
So…what is the root deception? The easy answer is Satan. The challenging answer, the believer's depraved flesh, often camouflages itself, in my opinion.